DISTRICT HEIGHTS, Md. – A suspect facing charges in connection with two “pigeon drop” scam investigations in Prince George’s County is now in custody. The suspect is 50-year-old William Coleman of Orange Park, FL. With the assistance of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, Coleman was located and arrested on Tuesday in Orlando, FL.
A pigeon drop scam involves convincing a victim to give the suspect(s) a large amount of cash as collateral with the hope of then sharing a larger sum of money. There have been nine pigeon drop scams reported in the county in 2023.
Coleman is charged in connection with two cases. In one case, he and his accomplice(s) successfully stole thousands of dollars from their victim. In the second case, the victim ultimately did not lose any money. In both incidents, the victims are females and senior citizens. The successful scam occurred on June 8, 2023, in the 6300 block of Marlboro Pike in District Heights. The attempted theft occurred on June 1, 2023, in the 12000 block of Central Avenue in Mitchellville.
Following an extensive investigation into these two incidents, PGPD detectives identified Coleman as a suspect. At the time of his arrest on Tuesday, and through subsequent search warrants, PGPD Financial Crimes detectives recovered multiple pieces of evidence indicative of these scams to include more than $100,000 in counterfeit cash at his Florida home. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office (FL) assisted with the search of his home in Orange Park.
Pigeon drop scammers often carry notes or fake letters from non-existent law firms confirming the receipt of a large amount of money from either a settlement or inheritance. A letter of this nature was recovered inside of Coleman’s car.
Also recovered, newspaper wrapped in a bandana. In many pigeon drop scams, scammers use bandanas to wrap the money a victim withdraws from his or her bank. Scammers then swap out the money for bundled newspaper unbeknownst to the victims.
“These crimes target some of the most vulnerable in our community. I want residents in Prince George’s County to know our detectives work relentlessly to identify and arrest suspects in these scams. Regarding Coleman, we do not believe he acted alone and that he worked with accomplices. Detectives are looking into whether he is linked to similar crimes along the East Coast. We sincerely thank our law enforcement partners in Florida for assisting us with this significant arrest,” said Chief Malik Aziz, Prince George’s County Police Department.
“I commend the coordinated efforts of Financial Crimes Investigators from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and Investigators from the Prince George’s County Police Department. The team worked seamlessly to execute a warrant, demonstrating exceptional teamwork. Such crimes occur all too frequently and are predatory in nature, making this arrest a significant success. Thanks to the arrest, law enforcement has prevented further losses to potential victims and put another scammer behind bars. Through the collective efforts of law enforcement, we have effectively put an end to this scammer’s ability to target innocent people, whether in Clay County or elsewhere,” said Sheriff Michelle Cook, Clay County Sheriff’s Office (FL).
Coleman remains in custody in Florida pending extradition to Prince George’s County.
The PGPD reminds residents to never give money or financial information to anyone who you just met in person, online or on the phone. If something seems to be good to be true, it usually is.
Anyone with information on this suspect or who could be a potential victim and would like to speak to a PGPD Financial Crimes Unit detective may call 301-516-1464.
Anyone with information who wants to contact Crime Solvers may call 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), or go online at www.pgcrimesolvers.com, or use the “P3 Tips” mobile app (search “P3 Tips” in the Apple Store or Google Play to download the app onto your mobile device.) You can remain anonymous.